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Published August 13, 2021
All University of Wyoming employees and students who will spend any time on campus this fall are required to be tested for COVID-19 in the next week, following action by the UW Board of Trustees.
Starting today (Friday), students, faculty and staff will receive individual emails directing them to schedule testing appointments between Wednesday, Aug. 18, and Sunday, Aug. 22. The saliva samples will be collected 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in the Crane-Hill Dining Center.
Those who do not follow the testing directive will face disciplinary consequences -- up to and including dismissal for employees, and a loss of university access for students due to temporary suspension. The testing requirement applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Students who will not be in Laramie by Monday, Aug. 23, to complete testing can call the Vice President for Student Affairs Office at (307) 766-5123.
The Board of Trustees directed that all employees and students be tested upon return to the university as part of a plan to proceed with a traditional, in-person fall semester while taking steps to manage COVID-19 amid an increase in cases locally and nationally.
“The testing upon return will give us a good idea of the prevalence of the virus in our community to start the semester -- and allow those who are infected to take proper steps to reduce the spread,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “We understand that we are creating one more thing for everyone to do as the semester begins, but it is an important step to help us keep the campus as safe as possible. We appreciate the willingness of our community members to do their part.”
Those testing negative will be notified by email, usually within 24 hours. Those who are part of pools with positive results also will be notified via email and directed to take confirmatory tests. Students who must miss classes and employees who must miss work because of positive tests will receive authorized absences and other accommodations, under UW’s quarantine and isolation protocols.
A much more limited testing program, also for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, will resume the week of Aug. 30. Under that program, a random sample of 3 percent of the UW community receives emails directing them to be tested on a weekly basis. This diagnostic testing will take place at the Crane-Hill Dining Center as well. Employees and students can opt out of random-sample testing if they will not be on campus for the week; have been diagnosed with COVID within the last 90 days; or are sick or in quarantine.
Students living on campus who test positive are required to report those results, and quarantine/isolation housing will be available for those students. Voluntary diagnostic testing will continue to be available to asymptomatic faculty, staff, students and the public as well.
Other parts of the fall semester plan approved by the trustees Wednesday are strong encouragement and incentives for COVID vaccinations; a requirement for masks in most indoor public spaces through at least Sept. 20; and a mandatory education seminar on the virus. More details on the mask requirement and education seminar will be provided in coming days.
Vaccination clinics are being planned during several events on campus starting next week, including at the testing location. UW continues to highly encourage but not mandate the COVID vaccine for faculty, staff and students, in concert with a directive from Gov. Mark Gordon.
UW requires all faculty, staff and students who are vaccinated to report it -- to allow the university to track overall vaccination numbers. Additionally, those who report vaccinations become eligible for weekly prize drawings.
For employees, a quick reference guide has been created to help report vaccinations within UW’s HCM. Students who receive their COVID-19 vaccinations should upload documentation to the Student Health Service patient portal as soon as their vaccine series is complete. This is as simple as taking a photo of your vaccination document and uploading the picture here: http://patientportal.uwyo.edu, using your regular UW user ID and password. Alternatively, students can report their vaccinations by emailing photos of their vaccination documents to Student Health at email@example.com.
So far, 10 students have won prizes in the first five of a series of weekly drawings for students who have reported being vaccinated. A weekly $300 cash prize as well as other prizes will go out until the sixth week of the fall semester Sept. 27. Two winners of the grand prize, covering up to $4,500 in tuition and fees, will be drawn for the fall semester -- one the week of Aug. 23, the other the week of Sept. 27.
The fall semester plan is in line with the board’s March 26 vote to “fully reopen” the university “consistent with the state and federal governments regarding COVID-19.” The fall semester will begin Aug. 23 with face-to-face classes at full capacity, along with face-to-face student engagement programs, in-person athletics experiences and the like.
As of Thursday, Aug. 12, there are 12 active cases of the virus reported by UW’s COVID-19 Hub -- six students living off campus and six employees. The total number of confirmed COVID cases among UW students and employees since the pandemic began is 2,280.
More information about UW’s COVID-19 response can be found at www.uwyo.edu/campus-return, which is being updated as information becomes available. Those with questions about testing and other COVID-19 issues may call (307) 766-COVD (2683) or email COVID19@uwyo.edu.